Organizations within the Black Power movement strategically deployed interracial alliances and community organizing across the country during the late 1960s, from Los Angeles to Newark, Chicago, and New York. This methodology is especially striking in the Black Student Unions (BSUs) founded in San Francisco and Seattle in 1966 and 1967, respectively. Indeed, this line of activism that originated with San Francisco’s BSU extended directly to Seattle. Careful study of the interracial alliances and community organization among these BSUs and other Black Power groups in this era challenge the dominant narrative of the movement, which characterizes Black Power as myopic, destructive, and a departure from the prosocial protests of the 1960s.
Black Student Unions to the Gang of Four: Interracial Alliances and Community Organizing from San Francisco to Seattle
Marc Arsell Robinson has served as an assistant professor of history at California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB) since 2018 and teaches courses on U.S. and African American History. He published “The Black Campus Movement in the Evergreen State: The Black Student Union at the University of Washington and Washington State University, 1967–1969,” in the Pacific Northwest Quarterly 103, no. 2 (Spring 2012): 55–66. He has published other essays and book reviews in venues such as Blackpast.org, The Western Journal of Black Studies, Reference Services Review, The Journal of Black Studies, and The Journal of African American History. He was a visiting assistant professor of history at Whitworth University from 2016 to 2018, and there he won the 2017 Provost’s Junior Faculty Award for outstanding teaching and service. Currently, he is writing a monograph on the Black Student Union and the Black Power movement in the state of Washington during the late 1960s.
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Marc Arsell Robinson; Black Student Unions to the Gang of Four: Interracial Alliances and Community Organizing from San Francisco to Seattle. California History 1 May 2021; 98 (2): 24–49. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ch.2021.98.2.24
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